Rejoicing in the light
This is certainly something to celebrate.
I wrote the following piece for my university student newspaper three years ago, but it's one of my favourite pieces I've written, so I'm posting it here. If you don't have a copy of Ripe #2 you've likely never read it.
I had intended a piece about Winter Solstice. I was looking forward to doing some research and reporting back about the origins of Yule festivities and encouraging the addition of more earth-worshiping traditions to folks' typical December celebrations. However, the reading I have done has simply enforced my feelings about winter that have been burrowing a place at the back of my brain since it started to get cold this year.
darkness and rejoicing in the light.
In this age of production and consumerism, the month of December seems to be filled with the panic of getting papers in and exams done for the end of the semester and then heading home to rush around to find the perfect gifts for loved ones. I have often wondered who came up with this confusing paradigm of chaos before celebration. And the stress doesn't even need to be self-induced. Upon entrance to any mall in the month before Christmas, the blinking lights and shmaltzy music makes my head spin, makes me forget what I even came in for. I feel the need to turn around, go home and hibernate under my plush duvet.
When I stayed with some good friends in Halifax two Decembers ago, they were really into conservation of heat to save money. The thermostat in their apartment was set at 12oC. If the temperature dropped below 12, the heat would come on, but only to bring it back up to 12. We spent a lot of time in bed and mostly in one bed to really maximize heat potential. We played cards in bed. We read in bed. We listened to music in bed. They did their homework in bed. We planned meals in bed and only got out of bed to cook. Food was consumed, of course, in bed. It was wonderfully cozy. This was our modern from of hibernation.
It'd be nice if during the colder months in this climate we could show more respect for the nature of the season. Winter is the time to slow down and keep warm. Of course my little call to action, or less action in this case, may not be practical for everyone. We do what can and participate in the things that interest us. I have a few friends who are getting up with the sun these days and getting to bed at a reasonable hour. That may not be your cup of tea however. There are lots of little things to be done that are seasonally appropriate.
Make a large pot of tea and put a cozy on it so you can enjoy it the rest of the day. Hold the mug of warm liquid between you hands, take in the signs of the season you can see though your window. My favourite witch, Cait Johnson suggests taking some time to sit at twilight:
Think of the fertile, nurturing darkness of the womb.
What are you gestating now?
What dreams do you have for the future?
What hope do you bring forth?
Think of the Earth Mother, in labour during this dark season
to birth the Sunchild.
Lighting candles is nice when you really appreciate the warm glow (just make sure they're beeswax or veg wax, as parafin's really dirty). Reminders of the sun, like strings of dried orange rounds and cranberries look really nice hanging in the kitchen. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves are wonderful warming spices that can be incorporated into lots of baking, or throw some into a pot of apple cider and heat it up on the stove. Curl up in a chair and knit something cozy - wear the finished garment with an appreciation of the sheep that gave you its wool. The spiritual aspect of these things may sound a little kooky to you, but I assure you that it all has value. We all deal with or appreciate winter in different ways, but taking a moment to be peaceful and warm is not wasted on the world.